Matt and I love garlic. We put it in everything. Last year I grew garlic for the first time and cured it in the basement for a couple of weeks and then made a braid of about 13 of the heads. I then hung the braid on my baker’s rack, thinking it would last us awhile. We went through it in about four months. So this year, I planted three times that amount.
Some people don’t bother with growing garlic, because it takes up space and stays in your garden a long time. I planted this crop last October and it is just now ready. I think it’s worth the wait though. We will use this is everything we cook and preserve, like my swiss chard ravioli, spaghetti sauce and dilly beans! Yum.
Garlic is ready to harvested when the tops turn brown and fall over. These had actually looked like this for awhile before I finally got around to harvesting them. It’s okay to wait a little bit, because the heads will continue to grow, but if you wait too long, the skins will get thin and the heads won’t keep as well.
I maybe waited a bit too long because some of the skins were a little thin. To minimize damage to the skins, I use a shovel to loosen the soil around and under the garlic, so I can just pull it out by the stem and not even touch the fragile skin.
To further protect the skin, I also leave all the dirt on it. The dirt can be brushed off later after it’s done curing.
Look at all that garlic! I harvested about 40 heads, I think.
I tried to give some away and Matt wouldn’t let me!
We are curing it our basement (on an old screen door over a couple of sawhorses), since it is cool, dark and dry down there. In a few weeks, I will brush the dirt of and braid it.
I’ll be sure to take photos of that process, so that I can post a garlic braiding tutorial. It is such a pretty and practical way to store garlic!
*Addendum 7/29/14- Curing garlic on the screen door left soft spots on some of the heads of garlic, so I no longer cure them on a screen door. The past two years I have just strung some twine up in my basement and hung the garlic on the line, by the stalks, with clothespins. It’s just like hanging the wash (that smells like garlic)!